Downton Abbey is the popular PBS soap opera set in the Edwardian Age and after; an era of elegant living for those that could afford it! Charles G. Emery’s New Frontenac Hotel on Round Island lived its short life entirely in the Edwardian Age. The New Frontenac was the jewel in the crown of Thousand Island Hotels, catering to nobility, government officials, and the novo rich! Its guests included Thomas A. Edison, the Vanderbilt Family, Howard Gould (Jay Gould’s son), the Maharaja of Baroda, and President Taft (as Secretary of War).
Emery wanted to have the most luxurious hotel with the finest of food and service. When Emery bought the old Hotel Frontenac he set about to make it into his dream of a magnificent hostelry. He looked for someone to advise him, after all he had never run a hotel, and he had made his money selling tobacco. How he met up with General Marshall C. Wentworth is anybody’s guess, but most likely, Emery had heard of the extremely successful Wentworth Hall, in Jackson, New Hampshire. General Wentworth was hired by Emery to supervise the remodeling of the old Hotel Frontenac and serve as the first manager of the New Frontenac.
Wentworth Hall is a resort set in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. General Wentworth found the outline for the development of both the Wentworth Hall and the New Frontenac in Britain. The British concept involved a total resort experience with different types of accommodations.
It was common for a family to stay the entire summer at resort with the bread winner working weekdays and spending weekends with the family. Thus, the British concept evolved around a main hotel building with a number of cottages surrounding it. Social events, restaurants, and other activities were held in the main building while summer guests could enjoy the privacy their own cottage. Although Emery did not succeed in having all the cottages he wanted to complete his plan.
One would think that the era of gracious living, as in the Edwardian Age, was over. After all, this is the age of the cookie cutter mass produced road side hotels and the fast food restaurants. Remember the road side motel with a central building and a bunch of small cottages? General Wentworth’s concept on a different scale; they are all gone or are they? Well if they aren’t gone certainly gracious living is gone, unless you’re a millionaire.
However, take a nostalgic trip back in time this year, go to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and you will find dozens of mom and pop motels with individual cabins. Even better Wentworth Hall is still there after more than 150 years, updated to be sure.
Wentworth cottages have large rooms fitted with king-size sleigh beds and tasteful art work. The baths are equipped with both shower and Jacuzzi tubs!
There are a number things that take you back to the New Frontenac and the Edwardian Age, well restored buildings, friendly staff, suburb food, and a beautiful natural setting.
The owner and General Manager for the last twenty years is Fritz Koeppel. He is a native of Switzerland, a country that knows a thing or two about hospitality.
I was informed by the desk clerk, Pat Davis, also another twenty year veteran, that the chef was from New York City. Dinning was the highlight of our visit to the Wentworth. The menu is expensive without being boorish, and the Wentworth offers both the American and European Plans. We selected the American Plan and were delighted with the value received. The French Service was excellent, the staff was friendly, but did not salivating all over you. The proper cutlery was there; I counted four forks, three knives, and a spoon or two.
The Wentworth veranda is large and fitted with comfortable wicker furniture. One could picture the same scene on the New Frontenac veranda. General Wentworth left his mark on the Thousand Islands and a great hotel in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
For more information on the Wentworth visit www.thewentworh.com
By Rexford M. Ennis, Grindstone Island © Copyright, All Rights Reserved
Rex Ennis was considered our “go to researcher” for describing the Golden Era of the Thousand Islands. His bio was recorded in the article: Contributors in December, 2008. Rex published two important books on the Thousand Islands. The first, published in 2010 is "Toujours Jeune Always Young" the biography of Charles G. Emery. It was reviewed in the June 2010 issue. The second, "Saints, Sinners and Sailors of the Gilded Age: A compendium of biographical sketches centered on the Gilded Age in the Thousand Islands" describes the biographies of every name appearing on a 1889 map published by Frank H. Taylor called: Map of the Thousand Islands; Hotels, Parks and Cottages. See the book review in our July 2011 issue and you will find the map described in the July and the August 2011 issues. Many of the islanders who are featured in these books travelled across the oceans as Rex had done in this article. Rex Ennis died in the spring of 2018 and will be miss by all.